How to Talk to a Widower

Bugs, Thumper, Roger, Peter, Velveteen. I name them after their storied counterparts and then I try my best to brain them. Because they remind me of where I am, marooned out here in this life I never planned. And then I get pissed at Hailey, and then I get sad about being pissed at her, and then I get pissed about being sad, and then, never one to be left out, my self-pity kicks in like a turbine engine, and it’s like this endless, pathetic spin cycle where all the dirty laundry goes around and around and nothing ever gets clean.

But someday I'll fall in love again, right? I'll start over with someone, and maybe we'll buy a big old house with all this new money I have, and we'll have kids, and I'll be a professional writer, maybe even write some books. I'll have this whole great life, and it will be thanks to Hailey dying in a plane crash. And I don't know exactly at what point it will happen, but the time will come when I'll have crossed this line where maybe I wouldn't go back to save her, because I'll know that if it weren't for her dying, I wouldn't have this family I love, and this life I'm living. And the thought of that, of becoming the person who wouldn't go back to save her...

But that's why you pay for insurance, right? If you never file a claim, then they've beaten you.

But we are not going to talk about that right now, because to talk about it I'll have to think about it, and I've thought it to death over the last year. There are parts of my brain that are still tirelessly thinking about it, about her, an entire research and development department wholly dedicated to finding new ways to grieve and mourn and feel sorry for myself. And let me tell you, they're good at what they do down there. So I'll leave them to it.

Even betting against myself, I could always find a way to lose.

Healing is a deeply private process and, honestly, you’re not welcome to be a part of it. But you will have given me a short furlough from the dark, sorry prison of my mind, and that gift, precious in its own right, is really the best you can hope to offer.

I lost something after Hailey died. I'm not sure what to call it, but it's the device that stops ypu from telling the truth when people ask you how you're doing, that vital valve that keeps you deeper, truer emotions under lock and key. I don't know exactly when I lost it, or how to get it back, but for now when it comes to tact, civility, and discretion, I'm an accident waiting to happen, over and over again.

Socially, that makes me something of a liability.

I love Hailey and what we have works. Shes's beautiful, she's smart, she's a great mother, and she's heads above what I ever thought I could see in myself.

I may not beleive in God, but I believe in guilt and no one wants to dick around with eternity, even if it isn't there.

In my defense, I was young and there was an open bar.

It’s life, that’s all. There are no happy endings, just happy days, happy moments. The only real ending is death, and trust me, no one dies happy. And the price of not dying is that things change all the time, and the only thing you can count on is that there’s not a thing you can do about it.

It’s rare for someone to say something to you, just a few words, really, and actually make you see yourself from a completely different vantage point.

I want to explain everything to him, show him that it’s really not as screwed up as it all sounds, but then I remember that it is.

I was sprawled out in my usual position on the couch, half asleep but entirely drunk, torturing myself by tearing memories out of my mind at random like matches from a book, striking them one at a time and drowsily setting myself on fire.

Moments later, there was a loud, protracted crashing sound. “Motherfucker!” “What was that?” “I just backed through the garage door.” “Jesus. You okay?” “I’m fine,” she said. “The whole damn door came down. I’ll just drive over it.” “Drive carefully.

Okay. Here’s what I’ve learned. You can live your life being nice to everyone, you can be a loving son, a moderately decent student, never do hard drugs or impregnate anyone’s daughter, be an all-around good guy and live in harmony with all of God’s creatures. But crash one stolen Mercedes in front of the police station when you’re fifteen years old and they’ll never let you forget it.

Pity, I've learned, is like a fart. You can tolerate your own, but you simply can't stand anyone else's.

She got on a plane to see a client in California and somewhere over Colorado, the pilot somehow missed the sky.

She was smart and funny and vulnerable and just so goddamned beautiful, the kind of beautiful that was worth being shot down over.

Sometimes you walk past a pretty girl on the street there's something beyond beauty in her face, something warm and smart and inviting, and in the three seconds you have to look at her, you actually fall in love, and in those moments, you can actually know the taste of her kiss, the feel of her skin against yours, the sound of her laugh, how she'll look at you and make you whole. And then she's gone, and in the five seconds afterwards, you mourn her loss with more sadness than you'll ever admit to.

The cobbler’s children go barefoot,

The cop looks annoyed, like we're giving him a headache. I want to explain everything to him that its really not as screwed up as it all sounds, but then I remember that it is.

The point is, people become possessive of their grief, almost proud of it. They want to believe it’s like no one else’s. But it is. It’s exactly like everybody else’s. Grief is like a shark. It’s been around forever, and in that time there’s been just about no evolution. You know why?” “Why?” “Because it’s perfect just the way it is.

There are no happy endings, just happy days, happy moments. The only real ending is death, and trust me, no one dies happy. And the price of not dying is that things change all the time, and the only thing you can count on is that there's not a thing you can do about it.

The sky is fucking with me. It's one of those militantly perfect spring days, the kind that seems to be trying just a little too hard, the kind you want to smack in the face, and the sky is bluer than it has any right to be, really, an obnoxious, overbearing blue that implies that staying home is a crime against humanity. Like I've got anywhere to go. The neighborhood is alive with gardeners mowing lawns and trimming hedges, the mechanized hiss of twirling sprinklers and for those just joining us, it's a beautiful day and Hailey is dead and I have nothing to do, nowhere to be.

The tears come to my eyes so fast, there's just no way to stop them.

This is just your time, son, that’s all. Your time to hurt and bleed and tear apart your notion of what makes you who you are. Life knocks us all on our ass at some point. And then we get back up, and we make some changes, because that’s what men do. We adapt. And when we’re done adapting, we’re better equipped to survive.

Wir sehen Menschen, die wir lieben, meist nur so, wie wir sie im Kopf haben. Hin und wieder aber erhaschen wir zufällig einen Blick darauf, wie sie in Wirklichkeit aussehen, und in den Sekundenbruchteilen, die unser Gehirn braucht, um sich auf die neue Realität einzustellen, kommen kleine Dinge in uns vom Weg ab und wirbeln schreiend irgendeinen Abhang hinunter.

You never know when you’re going to die, but maybe something in you does, some cellular consciousness that’s aware of the cosmic countdown and starts making plans, because on the last night of her life, Hailey surprised me by wearing a blood red dress, cut low and tight in all the right spots. It was almost as if she knew what was coming, knew that this would be our last night together, and she was determined to keep herself from fading too quickly into the washed-out colors of memory. I

You swear you’ll never become your parents. You listen to edgy music, you dress young and hip, you have sex standing up and on kitchen tables, you say “fuck” and “shit” a lot, and then one day, without warning, their words emerge from your mouth like long-dormant sleeper agents suddenly activated. You’re still young enough to hear these words through the ears of the teenager sitting beside you, and you realize how pitiful and ultimately futile your efforts will be, a few measly sandbags against the tidal wave of genetic destiny.